Teams Beyond Yesterday's Needs

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For companies to be competitive, decisions have to be made faster than ever before, and expenses have to be lower. In the past, it seemed that competition was simply reserved for your own area, or at the very least, your own country. As well, the old system of bartering would lend itself quite well to those within driving distance or within the general locale. What has changed?

The Old Way
No longer is there a localized economy. Everywhere you look, the world is shrinking, the markets are integrated and nothing is as it was. The old way of working and supplying has gone by the way and a new method needs to respond to the demands of a very busy and fast paced world. The hierarchical environment did not support fast decision making. Decisions flowed through a chain of command. If a decision was beyond your authority, you would have to refer it to your supervisor, who would then refer it to their manager, who would then refer it another and so on. The point is that decisions took too long. Further, considering the time required by the people involved in the process, it was also very costly.

The Boundaries Expanded
In a team based environment, the boundaries for making decisions and the necessary authority have been expanded tremendously. Now, in many environments, the person doing the job makes the decision. This change in the decision making process has resulted in faster, less costly decisions which, in turn, helps keeps a product or service priced competitively. To adhere to past practices even though they may have worked well and served the demands of the times are gone. They are gone because the need for speed has totally eroded the old way of top down decision making.

"Individual commitment to a group effort - that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work." Vince Lombardi

What It Requires
A team based environment demands that you make responsible decisions. But, responsible decisions means that if you are a leader you must make consistent decisions; decisions that are in tune with the overall operating procedures and policies of the organization. It does not mean that you can just do what you want when you want. It means, instead, that you are in tune with the needs and changes required to keep ahead of the curve. The curve I refer to is that which says if you do not keep up or even surpass your competition your company or organization may not survive.

However, in the midst of the never ending rush that occupies our working time do not neglect to take care of your health; keep a healthy balance between work life and out of work life. In other words, be aware that brown out and burn out are even more prevalent than just a few short years ago. Part of this fast paced and engrossing environment has been fueled by the advancements in technology. And while a few years ago it may have been a lot easier to leave work and know that it was unlikely that you would be contacted by phone during your off hours especially on the weekend, this is no longer the case.

With every new technology come advantages and disadvantages. The advantages are easier communication nondependent on just one device like the phone, or a mailed letter. The disadvantages are that you can be, whether you choose to be or not, contacted by smart phone, email, or text messages day and night, weekend or not, vacation or not or designated quiet time or not. Your space, that is your inner spaces, see no boundaries unless of course you make a specific decision to turn off all communication devices like cell phones, tablets etc.

Constantly On
Some people, who are in supervisory or leadership role, feel compelled to stay in touch with their Monday to Friday work environment because they are afraid not to do so may compromise their job. They may feel that they need to stay on top of every demand no matter whether they are at work or not. Part of this demand stems from the intrusion on one's life by way of technological devices. The danger here, though, is that to be in constant touch with old or emerging issues, or the requirements of another leader, is to forsake personal time for family or for simply recharging your own batteries. If there is no personal down time, you are moving close and closer to brown time which is a lessening of your productivity and waning of your inner reserves of perseverance and strength. This constant connectedness, if not broken, can further lead to total burn out where you are so tired, depleted and overextended that you are unable to perform your job at all.

You Are Responsible
All of the push towards greater productivity and profitability also means that you are only good as the day is long. What does this mean? It means that as soon as your skill sets diminish over time to the point where you become more of a liability than a contributor your days will be numbered before you end up being released from employment. This means that in a fast paced environment where speed, productivity and bottom line profitability are constantly measured, the less than stellar contribution you are making is in constant comparison to movement forward.

Part of this constant movement whether one likes to acknowledge it or not, is the aspect of continuous learning. This means that no longer are you able to count on the skill set that brought you to the point where you are at right now but it recognizes the need to constantly improve or add on new skill sets. If you think you can get by while waiting for your employer to keep you up to their demands, you are sadly mistaken.

In fact, part of your responsibility, if not part of your survival in the workplace, is to improve your skills looking forward in time to determine what set of skills will be needed in tomorrow's work environment. It requires you to take charge of your career. It requires you to develop excellent interpersonal skills because you have to interact at a much different level with your team members. No longer is it just you and your job! If you need an example of why it is no longer just you and your job take a look at the development of the automobile.

In the past, horse and carriage got the job done. Stagecoaches got the job done although slowly. Horse and wagon got the job done in the orderly movement of goods but at a very slow pace. The advent of the first automobile saw a marked decline in the need for the horse and buggy, the stage coach and the wagon. If you were a stage coach driver and refused to acknowledge the development of the car and later the truck, you would soon find yourself looking for work with a very old set of skills no longer needed.

"Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much." Helen Keller

Something To Think About
When you stop and think about a team based environment, it is perhaps the best structure in our current work environment we could ask for. Why do I say this? Because, as adults we are quite capable of making our own decisions. In our personal life, for example, we do not have a manager to run to and ask permission. We are accountable for our decisions in our personal life so why shouldn't we be just as accountable in our work life.

While some may long for past days where you could count on your skills once learned to carry you through a generation of work, this is being totally unrealistic. The same applies to the family unit. Not that long ago, raising a family did not have to contend with illegal drugs or technology that seems to be able to lead young people down multiple wrong pathways of life. There wasn't the availability of Internet material that could sway a young person to a life of violent radicalism or seduce young people to think that it's all about them and not about how to contribute to the needs of others or to support their own family unit.

The challenge today is far more complex in that our world grows smaller and smaller and the demands on our skills and abilities mushrooms. While teams are the demand of the day, what will be the demands of tomorrow? Whatever they are, are you preparing yourself at work and at home?

"Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success." Henry Ford

Inspirational Quotes for Reflection:
"If a team is to reach its potential, each player must be willing to subordinate his personal goals to the good of the team." Bud Wilkinson

"Being trustworthy is the most important characteristic of a leader. Your team should be able to trust your word." Gavin McGinnis, Coaching: 10 Coaching Skills to Help Your Team Focus, Take Action, Stay Motivated and Accomplish Goals!


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